I sat up in bed in a cold sweat shaking. There was a hand on my shoulder and I saw Jeff. Wait, where was I? My mind was going two hundred miles an hour. Each thought was racing through at light speed so that I couldn’t make head nor tails out of anything. Jeff made me take several deep breaths so that I wouldn’t hyperventilate. I closed my eyes as I breathed trying to regain my focus. Jeff startled me when he took a cool cloth to wipe the sweat off from my face.
“You ok now?” Jeff asked looking at me worriedly.
“I think so, it’s just that everything is one big blur right now. Jeff,”
“Where am I?” I asked looking around.
“You’re at my house. With the way you’ve been feeling I asked my parents if you could stay over and they worked it out with your parents,”
“Your parents let you have a coed sleepover on a school night?” I asked.
“They’re out of town again, and besides, they trust the both of us. Can I ask you something Karen?”
“You just did,” I said sarcastically.
“Nice to see your sense of humor is still in tact,” he sighed.
“I’m sorry, what is it?”
“What do you remember? I mean you’ve been out of it since we left the school. It’s been like talking to a cardboard cut out,”
“I remember being on stage and I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye. I looked, but didn’t see anything. I remember being scared because there was something on that stage with me even though I couldn’t see it. The man I saw in the school yard was there. It was Ares, but with me waking up here I don’t know how much of it is real and how much of it was a dream,” I said thinking back.
“I’m really worried about you,” Jeff said quietly.
“You’re not the only one,”
“Try to get some sleep. Remember that I’ll be just down the hall if you need anything,” Jeff said getting up.
The rest of the night had been uneventful. That morning we took the bus to school and went through the same old routine. At lunch I could tell that Jeff was trying to fill in James without my knowing it too much. It was strange though; it was as if I were picking up on so much more around me. I’m usually very aware of my surroundings, but this was somehow magnified. After school I decided that I didn’t have the energy to work on anything for drama. Instead James and I went back with Jeff to his house. We three were the founding, and only, members of the school sci-fi club. We watched the first Star Wars where Luke learns of his destiny to be a great Jedi warrior. Jeff and James were talking excitedly, but I was lost in thought. Could it all have been just a dream last night? My back hurt this morning in the same spots as if I had fallen down or been thrown against a wall. Perhaps I was being too paranoid about all of this. Still, what if it were true?
“KAREN!” James yelled snapping me out of my thoughts.
“Yeah, sorry, what?”
“You ok? You seem even spacier than usual,”
“Sorry, just thinking,” I shrugged.
“You’re doing that a lot lately. You’ve gotta pace yourself or you’re going to burn through more brain cells than you can afford,” James said sarcastically.
Jeff hit James who tried to look as innocent at possible over the whole thing. I shook my head and got up to go get a drink. I had just taken my cup off from the counter when Ares was suddenly looming in front of me. I dropped the cup spilling iced tea all over the floor. Ares looked annoyed at my having gotten some on his boots. I swallowed hard as everything from yesterday came flooding back.
“Guys, please tell me that you’re seeing this too,” I said to Jeff and James, but never taking my eyes off from Ares.
“The big scary guy in black war armor?” James asked shakily.
“Yeah, that’s the one,” I said.
“We uh, yeah, we see him too Karen,” Jeff stammered.
“It is time for you to claim your birthright!” Ares commanded.
“I keep telling you that you have the wrong person. I’m no chosen one,” I shook my head.
“Chosen one?!” Jeff and James said in unison.
“You are coming with me to Mount Olympus this day,” Ares demanded.
“I am in no physical condition to be saving anyone! Not to mention that my sanity the past couple of months has been in question,”
“The dreams that feel real, but you can never seem to remember. You wake up feeling exhausted despite the fact that you’ve gotten a full night’s sleep. You see things out of the corner of your eye, but nothing clearly enough to know what it was. Your ability to read people has been getting stronger and more and more you feel like you don’t belong anywhere,” Ares said coolly.
“How do you know that?” I whispered staring at him.
“Your soul is restless because it knows you aren’t supposed to be mortal. Your entire life your spirit has been trying to break free to find out what it really is. I can show what you really are; who it is you are meant to be,” he said extending his hand.
“I still think that one or both of us is crazy,” I looked from Ares’ hand to his face.
“I can fix you, heal your body. You will have the physique of a world class Olympian athlete and your senses will be sharper than ever,”
“You can fix my heart and my knees?” I asked disbelievingly.
“Karen don’t do it! Something doesn’t feel right,” Jeff warned coming to stand next to Ares.
“I agree with Jeff on this one. He could kill you,” James said coming to stand behind Jeff.
“Accept your destiny,” Ares beckoned in a low haunting tone.
“This isn’t real,” I said reaching for Ares’ hand.
“KAREN DON’T DO IT!” Jeff pleaded.
“Why not? I’m dreaming again. When I wake up none of this will have happened. I’m not really here right now and this is all going on in my head. Nothing is going to happen,” I whispered as I kept moving towards Ares’ hand with my own.
I grasped Ares’ hand and immediately my body was wracked with a burning pain. My body was burning from the inside out. The pain was enveloping me like a typhoon. My heart was beating faster than it had ever beat before, but what hurt was the pressure. It felt like my heart was going to explode. I couldn’t breathe at all. I hit the floor gasping for air. Looking up at Ares I saw that his red eyes were glowing with an intensely fierce light. My legs were next on the pain parade. Whatever Ares was doing to me it felt like he was killing me. I looked at Jeff and James who were protesting with all of their might, but I couldn’t hear it. My body was shutting down. Ares, Jeff, and James were fading from my sight and fire was coming in. My body hurt in terms that could never be formed by any language. Everything was tight as the pain racked my body. Eventually the fire was replaced by darkness and everything stopped.